As our constant readers may be aware, we ran a subscription drive over the last two weeks of January; our goal was to get 150 new readers and as many new subscribers as possible. So how did we do? At the end of December, the last diary here, we had 9477 on the roll call and 141 paid subscribers. As of today, February 3, it is now 9637 on the roll call and 161 paid subscribers! You will note that this is exactly 150 new people on the roll call. Pretty good, huh?
Well, OK, I'm cheating. I was really hoping to double our paid subscribers, to go from 140 to about 300. Of course, I knew that was totally unrealistic. But still, 161 is pretty darn good, and I am delighted with every subscriber we get.
Let's remember why we do this. The point of Sacred Space Astronomy is to spread the good word of astronomy, and remind people that everyone – yes, even the Vatican! – can get behind astronomy and share the joy of it all. Among the writers we feature here are some pretty devout Catholics; and some who, well, aren't in church all that often. Some pretty active Protestants post here too; and some who aren't as active as they used to be. Some of our contributors are Jewish; again, some of them are more active than others.
For those of us who find God in a religious setting, we find our faith is reinforced by our love of astronomy. For those who don't, we nonetheless find joy in the contemplation of the skies. I, at least, identify that joy with the sacred.
I mean, think about it... what is stopping everyone from going out and enjoying the stars at night?
Really enjoying, I mean: the enjoyment that comes from knowing all the great things that the human race has wondered and thought and calculated about what's up there. The joy that knows not just, that bright red star is pretty; but knows that it's got a name, Betelgeuse, and a history going back to the Greeks and Babylonians, stories about a hunter and a scorpion, observations of its brightness coming and going... only then can you get excited about it dimming by a magnitude over only a few months, and the possibility that some day it might go supernova.
If you weren't paying attention to Betelgeuse, you wouldn't even notice that it had gotten dim. If you didn't know about what we know of astronomy, you'd never know that supernovas exist and that we might be looking at a predecessor right over our heads every night.
One thing that gets in the way of some people fully enjoying the night sky, I am afraid, is a fear of science. And that fear has many roots, from a misguided apprehension that "it's too hard" to and even more misguided apprehension that "it's a threat to my beliefs; it's scary."
Actually... it is scary. It's scary to have our closed-eyes view of nature, and God, broken; and broken open. But then, roller coasters are scary; trying a new restaurant is scary; falling in love is scary. That's what makes it fun. It's scary – and fun – to be challenged.
I think there's a great appetite for astronomy out there; and in particular, astronomy that embraces faith in all its wonderful forms. One that finds the Sacred in Space. But to feed that appetite, we need a bit of a structure. This website, and the other work we do, actually does come cheap; but it's not completely free. We have a Vatican Observatory that the Vatican City State is happy to support, and a Foundation that pays for the outreach and Summer Schools and workshops that we do. But that Foundation relies on donations large and small. Mostly small, to be honest, which is fine... as long as we have enough of them.
You know, if we had five times as many subscribers, then this site alone would be able to cover the annual costs of the Foundation. (Hint, hint.)
Please, tell more people about our site; and if you can, please subscribe at a rate of $10 a month (about the cost of movie) or $100 per year. Or even consider signing up a friend or two, as a Valentine's gift!